How to Conduct a Virtual Annual Meeting in Texas
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Virtual meeting state laws
Going virtual in the 21st century
Productive meetings tips
Virtual meeting etiquette
Benefits of e-voting
Call To Action: What next?
A big thank you to our subject expert, Leah Burton, RMWBH PC, Attorneys and Counselors at Law:
Are there Texas laws about COA/HOA virtual meetings?
Yes, state law allows for all property types, including "non-condominium" properties, to conduct virtual annual meetings. Keep in mind that any time your association wants to know if they're acting within their authority, they should always reference the governing documents or Texas state law.
Here are some laws you should be aware of:
TPC Sec. 6.002 — Alternative Forms of Meetings: Authorizes virtual board, resident or committee meetings via phone, videoconferencing, online or any combination. Even with this in place, boards are still subject to their CC&Rs because most governing documents don't speak to virtual meetings.
TPC Sec. 22.002 — Condominium & Non-Condominium Associations: Commonly known as the Non-profit Corporations Act, it's nearly identical to Sec.6.002 but doesn't include "subject to" language. Most associations are recognized as non-profit corporations and grants specified authority.
TPC Sec. 209.005 — Association Records: This relates to non-condominium associations (single-family or townhome developments) and authorizes electronic or telephonic meetings if each board member speaks and listens, all owners in virtual attendance can hear board members and the meeting notice includes owner instructions to access the correct platform for the meeting.
TPC Sec. 209.00592 — Voting: Allows owners to vote in person, by absentee or electronic vote. Proxy/in-person voting and absentee ballots are less common and more challenging to gather than e-votes.
Should boards conduct virtual annual meetings?
For boards, the show must go on! This lets homeowners see and hear board-led discussions and while offering a sense of transparency. Member meetings, however, are circumstantial, but the election should go on – electronically, of course.
When it comes to how to conduct an HOA annual meeting online, there's no specific prohibition against virtual meetings or bylaws that include "subject to" language. Furthermore, amendments can be made to accommodate our new reality (and in compliance with state law) and the kind of vote it takes to achieve this.
Productive Annual Meetings Tips
When conducting annual meetings, you want to make sure you're focused on the agenda items, especially since deviation can become a challenge. Remember that the purpose of the meeting is to conduct community association-related business.
Pro tip: Open forums should happen before or after the virtual annual meeting ends.
Essential elements of an annual meeting include (but aren't limited to) :
Open Forum - Homeowners should know to "raise their hand" if they have questions, that they have a limited amount of time to participate and that a moderator will field their questions and control mute functionality.
Meeting Minutes - These are essential to any annual meeting, so be sure to write down what was done, not said, and keep your notes brief but easy to understand.
Executive Session - During these meetings, board members can quickly adjourn for an executive session. Before going into their separate meeting, boards must give owners an outline of what will be considered. After the executive session is over, the board will come back with a summarization of what was discussed behind closed doors.
Virtual Meeting Etiquette
We've seen reports of how virtual meetings can go wrong; that's why it's essential to be mindful of how you present yourself to the community. In other words, pretend the virtual meeting is in-person. That means wearing professional clothing (pants included), being in a well-lit area, muting your microphone to avoid broadcasts of loud typing, echoes or rustling papers, and not giving people the satisfaction of watching you eat. Coffee, tea or water are appropriate and less distracting than watching someone eat Pad Thai.
And as it goes with any meeting, be sure to stay seated, stick as closely to the schedule as possible and make sure your Internet and sound are good to go so you can have a productive meeting.
Can boards still have their annual meeting in-person?
Yes, but we don't recommend it. There's just no reason for it when you can seamlessly learn how to conduct an HOA annual meeting.
Benefits of e-Voting
When you can set up an electronic ballot, there are two ways to vote: owners will receive an invitation with instructions on how to proceed or they can enter a unique code on a particular voting platform. You get more return and participation with online voting while providing a layer of homeowner privacy.
Most online systems tabulate the votes immediately and send a receipt saying their vote was recorded to reduce processing and show real-time results.
What Next? What do I need to conduct a virtual annual meeting?
Now that we've covered the basics of how to conduct a virtual HOA annual meeting and what proper etiquette looks like, it's time to act. First, find the best video conferencing platform for your association. Depending on the community's needs, one line item might override another, like cost vs. capabilities, for example. It's essential to consult with other board members when it comes to finding the right one. Secondly, this information should be introduced to residents, including the chosen's platform's capabilities and benefits. Once you've completed the first two action items, spend some time refining your communications strategy to help normalize your new way of engaging with homeowners.
It's not uncommon for associations that aren't familiar with virtual communications to experience a few hiccups along the way. Still, as community leaders, as you actively work to create effective, productive virtual annual meetings, it's undoubtedly worth the time it takes to grow accustomed to this new form of interaction.
Have additional questions?
Talk with your community manager or send an email to Lets-TalkTX@fsresidential.com.